The Sixth Ordinary African Union Summit got underway today in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, with about 50 heads of state expected to attend. The summit comes at a time when Sudan continues to fight one of the world’s longest civil wars and its leaders are being accused of human rights abuses in the Darfur region. So should Sudan have hosted the African Union summit?
Professor Sulayman Nyang is director of the African Studies Program at Howard University in Washington, DC. He told English to Africa reporter James Butty that holding the AU summit in Darfur may be problematic for some African countries, who may have doubts about the unresolved problems in Darfur. But Nyang says Sudan would not be the only African country with human rights record to host an AU summit. He says Ugandan dictator Idi Amin hosted the Organization of African Unity summit in 1975. “So I think this meeting should not be seeing as a negative or a minus for Africa. I think the African leaders should use it to put greater pressure on the Sudanese leadership so that Sudan could begin to move toward democratization, toward peaceful reconciliation of their country, and the Sudanese government would be able to replicate the peace process in the south in Darfur.”
Professor Nyang says it would reveal the weakness of Africa if the AU were to be forced to turn its peacekeeping duties in Darfur to the United Nations all because Africa cannot afford it. “If the Africans are really interested in becoming partners in this new wave of globalization, if they are going to move from the bottom of this pile to higher level of this global pyramid, they have to do a lot of homework, one of which is a concept which Ali Mazrui promoted many years ago: the concept of Pax Africana. There must be peace among Africans.” Nyang says once Africans are able to keep their own peace, other groups outside of Africa will no longer see it necessary, nor are they going to be allowed by Africans to enter Africa’s domain as peacekeepers, because the Africans would have gotten their act together.